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IBAC to focus on human biotech issues

Wednesday, 18 October 2000 Media Statement

IBAC to focus on human biotech issues


The Independent Biotechnology Advisory Council will focus its work in the upcoming year on human biotechnology issues, particularly their ethical and social policy implications, says Minister of Research, Science and Technology Pete Hodgson.

Mr Hodgson said the council had briefed him on its plans and he supported its proposed work programme.

"IBAC has had a very successful year and I am pleased with the quality of advice and reports I have received," Mr Hodgson said.

The most recent reports are Biotechnology in New Zealand: Consultation Report and Public Views on the Biotechnology Question. They report and analyse public responses to The Biotechnology Question, an educational/consultative booklet published in September 1999.

"Biotechnology is multi-dimensional, complex and fast-moving. It does not mean just genetic engineering, but includes a range of technologies including cloning, stem cell research and cross-species organ donation. Some of these technologies, such as the use of embryos for stem cell research, touch at the core of our ethical and philosophical values.

"The increasing knowledge of the human genome will mean that issues related to genetic information and testing, patenting of genes and the development of new medical therapies will increase considerably over the next few years. Biotechnology also has the potential to become an important part of our economy, with some industry proponents saying it has the potential to earn up to $10 billion a year by 2010.

"There needs to be ongoing information and dialogue about issues related to biotechnology. IBAC was established in May 1999 to meet the need for informed debate about biotechnology and provide independent advice to Government on its environmental, economic, ethical, social and health implications. I look forward to its continuing contribution."


ENDS

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